Saturday, December 25, 2010

Seasons Greetings from London

My wife and I enjoyed a week in London at the beginning of December. While the Holiday hoopla hadn't quite reached its crescendo during our visit, there was still plenty of seasonal cheer to go around. A few pics capture the spirit the of the Holiday in England's capital:

Our first dinner in London was at a lovely family run Italian restaurant called The Ripe Tomato.That evening the owner and staff were hanging Christmas lights and garland in preparation for the season. Watching them fuss, fret, and make repeated trips outside to see what the decorations looked like from the street was just charming!

Trafalgar Square gets the Holiday treatment courtesy of a giant modernist menorah (left) and a Norwegian Spruce (right). The tree is an annual gift from Norway and something of a London tradition. As the City of London's web site explains it, "Each year since 1947, a Christmas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway in gratitude for Britain's support for Norway during World War II. For many Londoners the Christmas tree and carol singing in Trafalgar Square signal the countdown to Christmas."

We stayed in the Notting Hill area, very close to a number of boutiques and specialty shops on Westbourne Grove. One of the shops had employed carolers to attract customers and add to the ambiance. I wish I'd have shot video. They were quite good.

Our hotel was also very close to Portobello Road. The weekly market there draws tourists from all over the world. Many of the vendors were selling seasonal items, including these lovely evergreen wreaths.

London offered a number of outdoor venues for ice skating during the Holiday Season. This rink is set up in the courtyard of the Somerset House, home to the world famous Courtauld Gallery.

Finally, what's the Holiday Season without a multitude Santas? On Strand Avenue, near the Courtauld Gallery, we ran across this parade of Santas that must have been at least a mile long. I'm not sure what the occasion or intent was (beyond spectacle and fun), but it was quite impressive. I especially appreciated the soccer chant about half-way through the line; "Ole' Ole' Ole' Ole', San-Ta, San-Ta".

God bless us, every one!